L. Abramson
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The best kept secret in music

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“Six months or a year”
L. Abramson — Bedroom / City
This finger-picked folk ode to a lover departed too soon (or not soon enough) skates on minimalism: a quiet shuffling snare drum, three notes on a piano every now and then, and repeated mumblings of “ball and chain,” all centred around a guitar line so laid back it’s almost tripping over itself. L. Abramson is a Vancouver-based folk musician whose specialty is songs like this — so pretty it’s haunting, and vice versa.

Choice Hook at 1:15, when the second verse opens with a soulful “You-u-u might disappear” that floats over the guitar picking. - Peak (SFU Paper), Mike Hingston


Leah Abramson may hail from north of the border, but Bedroom / City is beautifully melancholic Americana.

If you were to listen to Bedroom / City free of context, you'd probably develop a few assumptions about Leah Abramson. You might start to guess where she's from (maybe somewhere in the Deep South?), when she performed (maybe she dates back to the Bristol Sessions?), and perhaps even her politics (she's got to be a hellfire and brimstone Protestant/Republican, right?).

All of these assumptions, of course, would be wrong. Abramson is an artist from present-day Vancouver (or, to be precise, Burnaby), and it's probably safe to assume she's not a big fan of Bush (she started Victoria's "Wimmin In Music" concert series, after all), though Bedroom / City doesn't have much in the way of blatant political comments.

She also possesses an incredible voice, however, and it's for that reason you might be forgiven for drawing some of those conclusions. With barely more than her guitar as backing, thanks to that voice Abramson is able to draw you in to her own little universe and envelop you in the characters and settings she creates. Often, the protagonists of her tales are people trapped in relationships -- the narrator of "Emergency Exit Plan", who both contemplates suicide and plots a way out, vowing that "If I skip town in the middle of the night / I won't be back and I won't be found"; the main character in "Gerberas", who is urged to leave in a similar fashion; the refrain of "Waterworks", which is barely more than a "You make it look so easy to cry"; or "Six Months Or A Year", wherein the main character tries to "disappear, move far when she is near / Fuck your blues away, reveal it to her while in tears".

It's this last line that shows what makes Abramson more than just a pretty voice. She's able to use language to great effect, whether it's slyly throwing in a "fuck" here and there (she does the same thing in "Letters To B.") or building up an image of a factory stifling an entire town ("Hallmark Poultry Ltd." ). Even when the lyrics shouldn't make sense, there's something about the way Abramson phrases them that makes them transcend that slight problem (see "Alligators", and its "I don't think alligators train very well / Their Pre-Cambrian brains don't follow orders").

In fact, that's the only thing wrong with Bedroom / City. Admittedly, it's not the most upbeat album (though the hidden track following "Emergency Exit Plan" sounds like something Kate Bush might do), but anyone who expects that is missing the point entirely. Leah Abramson is a spectacular singer and great songwriter, and on Bedroom / City she displays those qualities in abundance.

IN A NUTSHELL:
Leah Abramson may hail from north of the border, but Bedroom / City is beautifully melancholic Americana.

- I heart music


Publish Date: 15-Jun-2006

Bedroom/City (Copperspine)

On the understated but quietly ambitious Bedroom/City, L. Abramson makes a convincing case that she’s lived through hell. Or, more accurately, a summer at the north foot of Commercial Drive, where air is thick with the stench of chickens being slaughtered at a local processing plant and underage prostitutes work what’s known as the Kiddie Stroll. On “Hallmark Poultry Ltd.”, the lo-fi singer-songwriter captures one of Vancouver’s most depressing areas with poetic precision, lamenting the fact that she can’t walk the polluted streets without being propositioned by men in automobiles with black-vinyl seats.

Although L. Abramson can sound like she has an unhealthy obsession with Joni Mitchell, the tasteful use of sleepy accordion, slash-and-burn indie-rock guitars, and ghostly organs prevent Bedroom/City’s nine songs from sounding like folk for the freedom-55 set. Ultimately, this is eerie, soft-focus, socially conscious protest music that bridges the K Records roster with the kind of acts that get booked at Café Deux Soleils. Just because it’s bleak doesn’t mean it isn’t often gorgeous.



- By mike usinger


***1/2
Leah Abramson has made her bed, and it is a place for only difficult rest. The Vancouver avant-folk singer-songwriter makes small, worrisome songs about a neighbourhood and herself -- as if from a lithium-addled Sarah Harmer. On the darkly captivating Hallmark Poultry Ltd., women go missing as men troll in slow-rolling automobiles along an infamous street that reeks. Elsewhere, accordions wheeze and kazoos (chipper by nature) despair. There is stashed gin and sleeping bills just in case; Abramson dreams of reptiles who give her simple-minded chase. On the haunting piano downer Alligator, a stick keeps open the creature's jaws, allowing the swallowed a chance of escape. Hope yet.



- Brad Wheeler, 7th July 2006


February 08, 2006

While listening to the deceptively simple arrangements of Leah Abramson, many names paraded through my mind. Some songs immediately brought to mind a raw Kathleen Edwards or Sarah Harmer, then some were Cat Power and then, more obscurely, some were very similar to Nedelle. Whenever a lone female with a remarkable voice picks up a guitar, the list of sound-alikes is long and varied but this doesn’t have to be a disservice to the musician. Listening to the gorgeous “(Come to the) Landfill” would be good without any knowledge of the above references, but by being able to compare Abramson’s songs to others, it stands up quite well. With her stripped acoustic backing and haunting echoes accompanying her remarkable voice, the song is definitely a cut above. The perfectly melancholic tone of “Waterworks” pulls one in just like Cat Power, but Abramson’s clarity of tone puts a different spin on the apparent hopelessness of the circumstances. Assured and not as derivative as one may think, Bedroom/City has a rough charm that dissipates into subtle beauty with every listen. - By Chris Whibbs


Very confident on stage, Leah used her beautiful voice and guitar (she was accompanied by an accordion player on a few songs) to her advantage. Except for the applause, the entire club was mesmerized and stayed silent during her lovely set. - Ben Lai


From start to finish, 8 Songs from the Attic is an impressive debut from an artist who is willing to go wherever her music takes her. - Nicole Ottenbreit


It is work that is unique, engaging incredibly talented and at times breathtaking. The imagery and honesty of her songwriting and her strong voice are testimonies of Fernwood's former hidden secrets. - Sharmeen Khan


L. Abramson “Bedroom/City” (Copperspine Records 2005)

Some good signs among strong influence

The first full length record by Vancouver native Leah Abramson (there was previously an ep ‘8 songs from the attic’). She has an interesting voice that wanders from a Woodstock era Joni Mitchell on ‘Alligators’ to something akin to a Neil Young ‘After The Goldrush’ falsetto on ‘Hallmark Lullaby Company’. Less predictably ‘Gerberas’ has that lazy Cat Power quality, with the ghost of Elliott Smith affecting the mood. The opening track has a drone not a million miles from Nick Drake’s ‘Know’. For ‘Soft Parts’ we’re back in Cat Power territory, but more due to the guitar than the vocals. Having just rattled off a list of strong influences, that’s not to say this is an overly derivative record, merely the title of ‘(Come to the) Landfill’ invokes more imagery than many songwriters muster with acres of lyrics, this song has a lighter more optimistic note than much of the record, its hard to be sad when a kazoo features, though the line ‘we’ll search for diamonds’ is possibly stretching the optimism into something altogether different. Closer ‘Emergency Exit Plan’ is arguably the best on the record, as affecting a suicide/runaway song as you could wish to hear, and, admirably, Leah does it without sinking too much into Morrissey-esque self pity, ‘I like to make life difficult for myself, so if I skip town in the middle of the time, I wont be back and I wont be found’. There’s a very odd little hidden track about 12 minutes into track 9, for a while you’re not sure whether you’re listening to something being played backwards or forwards! Shake looser of some of the influences and she’ll be really onto something.


Date review added:  Sunday, June 11, 2006
Reviewer:  Patrick Wilkins
Reviewers Rating: 7 out of 10 - Patrick Wilkins


Bedroom / City
Artist: L. Abramson
Genre: Folk
Publisher: Copperspine Records
Released: 03/07/06

Something old and mostly new
A Review by Dainon Moody
05/12/2006

Once upon a time not so very long ago, it was the norm for a rock band to put on a loud, sweaty dance-fest for two or three hours, escape backstage in the midst of thunderous applause and return for a final two songs (and, yeah, it still happens). More times than most, the singer and his favorite guitarist returned to offer up a couple acoustic meanderings of their biggest radio hits, winning even more praise than before, either in the form of drunken screaming or "Lookit these!" raised tees.

Sometime between that bygone era and the present, a new sound – often referred to as the freak-folk movement – was born. Sam Beam came out of nowhere with his Iron & Wine to quiet the masses, though there were many, many others, both before and after he put us to sleep (and in a good way, at that). It's a wonder this anti-folk folk music didn't catch on before, whether or not it had a scary moniker to attach to it; heaven forbid people misunderstand the purity it represents, right? Like the rap and the hip hop and all other forms of that genre – the one some assumed would eventually drift away and never come back – this "new" form of music is growing. Their voice is being heard. And, for that, the fans are grateful. L. Abramson is part of that same plucking, pretty singing camp of musicians. She may not change the world with her voice and hollow-body electric guitar, but she might allow our hearts to take a breather and our lives to slow down a little. She'll fill us up with the empty. And, for that, we'll be grateful all over ourselves once again.

Maybe she won't be readily accepted into the freak folkers – she sounds too readily nice to ever come off all hippy-flavored organic, not to mention she's still a pretty well-kept Canadian secret – but she has a lot going for her. With songs on her Bedroom / City like "Letters to b." and "Waterworks", she delivers the sound that forcibly pushes itself out from the background and forces us to listen in and search and find the messages the songs are so ably introducing. We want to know why she is saying things like "You make it look so easy to cry" or "Come and play with me, I've got some matches." She does it either by wielding a guitar and opting for the singer-songwriter approach or pounding on a piano while singing an ode to alligators (in the never-more-appropriately-titled "Alligators"). She can even do it by crafting a rather likeable ditty about landfills and using a kazoo to accentuate the odd junkyard beauty of it all.

Eh, forget all of that bunk about freak-folk: L. Abramson (but you can call her Leah) is doing her own thing. It's a fairly tried way to put it, especially in the world of budding musicians (the ones most consistently trying to be everything to everyone in that mad clamoring for dedicated fans). Leah, on the other hand, is able to go plenty of directions in nine songs, yet still remain true to her own, unique sound. Not an easy task. And that tends to be uplifting, even in the face of pretty (yes, pretty) nods to suicide like "Emergency Exit Plan". And, as a final title mention, "Six months or a year" is the kind of song that both sounds good in your ears and stays running on repeat between them for days straight. It's the one that wins her a warranted Joni Mitchell comparison, but it's where comparisons stop. It's not very nice to peddle off originality on the shoulders of another's genius, after all. She is who she is and, provided you concentrate hard enough, you'll hear her singing a few stories about it.

© Copyright ToxicUniverse.com 05/12/2006
- Toxic Universe.com


Discography

Bedroom / City (Copperspine Records) - March 2006
8 Songs from the Attic - 2003

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

L. Abramson sings with her hollow-body electric guitar the unusual songs that people shut up to listen to. Dark and melancholic, her songs have both sweet and sad undertones, without the kind of art-kid pretension that makes a dictionary an essential accessory at some shows. Leah sings songs that are haunting, intelligent, and beautiful, like the long lost love-child of Jason Molina and Joni Mitchell.

2006 sees the release of her new CD, Bedroom/City: 9 songs, some hopeful, some dark, but all lyrically unique. Honest to the point of being painful, Leah writes about experiences, feelings, and politics as in Hallmark Poultry Ltd. The song reveals truths about her East Vancouver neighbourhood—the smell from the chicken factory, the sex trade, and the disappearance of so many young women—and her dream of destroying the factory that represents so much misery.

Leah’s first independent EP, 8 Songs from the Attic, charted for several months on Canadian campus radio stations CKMO Village 900 (reached #1 on the folk chart) and CFUV in Victoria, CFBX in Kamloops, and CIUT in Toronto. Bedroom/City promises more college radio successes. The album has already reached #4 on Lethbridge’s CKXU folk charts, #7 on CHUO in Ottawa, and the songs Gerberas and Hallmark Poultry Ltd. have been added to CBC Radio 3’s national playlist.

L. Abramson is an artist who knows who she is, and is uncompromising in her music. Her live performance is stark and spellbinding, completing the picture you only start to see when you listen to Bedroom/City. She toured solo across Canada, the Czech Republic and Germany opening for such acts as Geoff Berner and played showcases at Canadian Music Week (Toronto), New Music West (Vancouver), and the Western Canadian Music Awards festival. This year Leah tackled the west with songwriting art-troubadour and filmmaker Bob Wiseman on a month-long tour from Winnipeg to Los Angeles in 2006.

Leah is also deeply rooted in her artistic community, collaborating with local comedians, filmmakers, musicians, and frequently lending her talents to non-profit initiatives. Last year she signed on with her friends as a partner in Copperspine Records, a grass roots collective formed to give artists support in their creative endeavours. She also sings and plays guitar in Dyad, and old-time traditional music trio.

L. Abramson is indeed an artist who, with her music, will always find a soft place in the city to fall.